When Tress Way arrived at Redskins Park on August 20th, the left-footed punter was told that he had exactly 10 days to prove he deserved a spot on the 53-man roster.
Way accepted the challenge, and on Saturday, he claimed the Redskins’ job. For now, at least.
“We feel good with Tress now,” Coach Jay Gruden said Monday. “We’ll give him some shots. He came in here and did everything right and took advantage of his reps. We decided to go with him, and for Week 1, we’ll see how it goes. If he does well, it’s his job. If he struggles…you have to look to upgrade. But we don’t anticipate that happening.”
Way is an Oklahoma product who signed with the Bears as a college free agent in 2013. After being cut, he returned to Chicago for the 2014 offseason but lost out to sixth-round draft pick Pat O’Donnell.
“I was hitting the ball really well with Chicago,” Way said. “I made their decision difficult with the draft pick. So I guess it’s always a good thing."
One day after getting cut by the Bears, Way was claimed off waivers by the Redskins, who had been unimpressed with Robert Malone.
And then Way's phone began to blow up.
“I started getting text messages left and right because I went to Tulsa Union High School, where our mascot is the Redskins,” Way said. “Our fight song, our chant before we ran out of the teepee—we ran out of a teepee in high school—our chant was ‘All my life I want to be a Redskin.’ And then the whole rest of the crew would go, ‘Work, work, baby, work, work.’ I must of have got 65 [texts], ‘All my life I want to be a Redskin.’ So I had, ‘Work, work, baby, work, work’ copy and pasted to everybody.”
Way arrived in Ashburn, Va., the following day. And was immediately put on the clock by special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
“I got here and Coach Ben told me hey, ‘You’ve got 10 days,’” Way recalled. “It's not ideal...But I had a really good 10 days. I love it here. I feel comfortable.”
On Sunday, Way, who has a 6 foot 10 younger brother who pitches in the Royals organization, will make his NFL debut in Houston.
The Redskins hope Way will be able to duplicate his preseason performances. In two games, he booted a 51-yarder, a 59-yarder and placed two punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line.
Washington also hopes that being left-footed gives him a small edge.
“I was talking with Nick Williams and some of the guys here, and they said they hate it,” Way said. “Because if that thing goes up straight in the air, it comes back [down] backwards. Until you really get used to it, it’s a little different.”
Way does everything right handed. But he learned to kick left footed during his youth soccer days.
“It’s the weirdest thing,” he said with a smile.